Princess vs Cushion vs Radiant Cut

Princess vs Cushion Vs Radiant Cut

Bottom Line Recommendations

  • Some people like a square-shaped diamond. There are 3 main options that you have. These are the princess cut, the radiant cut, and the cushion cut.
  • The princess cut has sharp edges which means that the setting should have 4 prongs to protect the sharp edges from chipping. Take a look at an example here. It is a less expensive diamond cut as less of the original rough is wasted.
  • Cushion cuts have more rounded edges as you can see here. This gives you plenty of options when choosing a setting as you do not always need to offer protection to the edges.
  • The radiant cut has more truncated edges as shown here, and may need protection to prevent them from chipping. However, it is not as prone to chipping as the princess cut.
  • If you want a square diamond that has plenty of fire and brilliance, the radiant cut is an excellent choice. Some have up to 70 facets and can even come close to a round cut diamond while still being significantly cheaper.
  • When buying any diamond, it is all about how it appears. Always view 360-degree videos of the stone. We recommend buying from James Allen or the Blue Nile as these offer the best quality videos, images and offer excellent service.

James Allen Diamonds

When you are searching for the perfect square diamond, there are three main cuts that you may want to consider. These are the princess cut, the cushion cut, and the radiant cut. While they may appear similar, take a closer look and you will realize that each cut has its unique characteristics.

Let’s consider a few differences between the princess cut, the cushion cut and the radiant cut to help you make the best decision.

A little history

The princess cut diamond is not the oldest diamond on this list. The shape first came out in 1980 by diamond cutters Betzalel Ambar and Israel Itzkowitz. Its popularity, however, is unmatched among the fancy cut diamonds and is most often used in engagement rings.

The cushion-cut, on the other hand, has been around for a good long time. In fact, for well over 200 years. It was originally referred to as an old mine cut and looks very similar to a pillow with rounded edges thus its name. The cushion-cut was the most popular in its first century of existence.

The radiant cut first came out in the 1980s. It has a completely square-cut though it is possible to find one in a rectangular shape. Unlike the cushion cut, its edges are sharp and it features faceting that gives it brilliance and fire.

Differences in the Cut

The princess cut a has a pyramid shape. Compared to the round cut they are less expensive since there is less rough that is lost during cutting. The princess cut has sharp edges and traditionally comes in a square shape. It is still possible to find a rectangular princess cut but these are perceived to have less value than the square shape.

That said, a Length to width ratio of 1.08 will be unnoticeable to the naked eye. It will all come down to personal preferences.

Among all the other cuts, the cushion cut diamond has the most varying standards. As with any other diamond cut, the ideal one for you will come down to what you like. What’s sets cushion cut diamonds apart is their remarkable fire. Granted they may not have the same brilliance as the round brilliant cut but they outperform the latter with the fire.

You can find a radiant cut diamond that looks a bit more rectangular. However, these are prone to the bowtie effect. The radiant cut lacks sharp edges like the princess cut neither does it come with rounded edges as the cushion cut. However, the edges are more cropped and look like the bridge between the two.

Keep in mind that buying a diamond based on the certificate alone is not recommended. The bowtie effect will not be included and it is, therefore, crucial to inspect the diamond yourself.

Diamond settings

Since the princess cut has four sharp edges, it should always be placed in a setting that has four prongs. The sharp edges are likely to break or chip away and it’s, therefore, crucial to provide extra protection to them. During cutting, the edges of the princess cut are near the ends of the rough stone.

This means imperfections and blemishes are likely to be seen here. Using the right setting will also hide these imperfections.

When choosing a princess cut diamond, ensure that the flaws at the edges, if any, will not affect how stable the diamond is. The good thing, however, is that such cases are very rare.

With the cushion cut, the edges are more rounded which means that they are less likely to chip or break. Because of this, the diamond doesn’t always need four prongs and can be placed in a more open setting. Being durable and versatile, they can be a perfect choice for people who plan on wearing the stone multiple times and have an active lifestyle.

While the radiant cut is not as easy to chip and break at the edges as the princess cut, it is also not as durable as the cushion cut. The edges could still hold on to something and break. It is, therefore, a good idea to place the stone in a setting that protects the edges.

Fire and brilliance

Of all the diamond cuts it is the round cut that has the most fire and brilliance. If you want a stone that has life and you don’t want to go for the round brilliant, the princess cut is an excellent choice. What’s more, is that the princess cut is not as highly-priced as the round cut.

The sparkle in a cushion cut is gentler compared to the princess cut. The latter offers a much brighter sparkle. But it’s the fire that makes the cushion cut stand out from the crowd. This diamond shape has even more fire than the round brilliant cut shape.

The radiant cut isn’t called radiant without a good reason. It offers plenty of fire and sparkles and can even be compared to the round cut owing to the many facets. While some radiant cuts still have 62 facets some will have as much as 70 facets.

Both the radiant cut and the princess cut have the closest brilliance to the round cut. If you are searching for a stone that offers plenty of light action, anyone these two diamond shapes will work just fine.

What’s more, is that their prices are less steep than the round brilliant cut since less of the diamond rough is wanted during the diamond cutting process.

Since the cushion cut has fewer facets than the radiant cut, the brilliance from the cushion cut is less than the radiant curt. However, if you prefer the cushion cut over the radiant, you may still find different variations of the cushion cut that can come close to matching the brilliance of the radiant cut.

Note however that if you are looking for which of these three diamond cuts has the mist fire or brilliance, you will have to evaluate them all together and side-by-side.

The color

When you are evaluating the color in a princess cut diamond, keep in mind that this will be subjective. Only you can tell which color most appeals to you. Many wills, however, go for the warmer G-H colors than the cooler colures in the D-F color grade. These higher color grade stones will, however, ask for a premium as they are much rarer and have more demand.

Similar to the princess cut, the cushion diamonds price goes up as you go higher in the color scale. This is also the case with the radiant cut. Such diamonds have more demand which then causes the price to go up.

Between cushion cuts, princess cuts, and radiant cuts, there isn’t much difference in the color visibility of the inclusions.

Anatomy of the princess cut

One thing about fancy cut diamonds is that they come with different variations making it near impossible to come up with standardized cut grades. Compare this with the round brilliant cut which only has one way through which it could possibly appear.

Different princess cut diamonds can have different patterns situated on the crown. They can also differ in the number of facets there are on the pavilion. Keep in mind that this will not affect the value of the diamond and the right one for you will come down to personal preference.

Let’s consider the crown of the princess cut diamond. This is the part of the stone that is facing you. This can come with French corners or it can feature bezel corners.

The bezel corners will result in a diamond shape pattern that starts from the corners of the table and ends in the stone corners. One the other hand, princess cut diamonds that have the French corners will have a star pattern that extends to the stone corners.

The lower side of the diamond, the pavilion will feature chevron facets. These are responsible for reflecting light and causing the brilliance and fire. The princess cut diamond can feature two, three or four chevrons.

Two chevrons create bigger light and color flashes. Four chevrons result in greater scintillation due to the many smaller facets.

Anatomy of the cushion cut 

Modern cushion cut diamonds feature three different faceting patterns. There are they can be divided into cushion brilliants or cushion modified cuts. The latter has a row of facets that are situated below the girdle.

Between the two, it is the modified cushion cut that offers more brilliance and sparkle that could rival that of the radiant cut diamond. Other cushion cuts may feature a culet. This is a small facet that is situated at the very bottom of the stone and it is this part that sits on the setting.

However, it is important that it is not visible to the eye as an obvious culet will make the stone less appealing. The other facets of the cushion cut will reflect light if the diamond has a quality cut.

However, the culet will let light pass through the diamond and will show the color of the setting underneath. Everything is okay if the metal on the setting is white as this will reflect back the light to the observer. However, it may also show the color of the finger when the culet is large.

Considering that a medium culet will be seen by the naked eye, it is recommended to go for a small-sized culet or none at all.

The cushion brilliant features a similar faceting pattern to the round brilliant cut. The pavilion facets start at the center of the stone and extend to the diamond girdle similar to a star. Due to the larger sized facets, cushion brilliants will not feature the look of crushed ice. They will, however, look like a round cut that has been shaped like a pillow.

The cushion modified brilliant is a variant of the original cushion cut. It features one more row of facets under the girdle. This means that the facets of the pavilions will not come into contact with the girdle. The result is a flower shape. The cushion modified brilliant has exceptional sparkle with a sparkling water effect.

The anatomy of the radiant cut 

The radiant cut diamond has 70 facets. There are 25 facets on the crown, 37 facets on the pavilion and 8 on the girdle. The facets are cut in a strategic angle causing the stone to create more virtual facets. These virtual facets are responsible for the great fire and brilliance in the radiant cut.

Other radiant cuts feature 62 facets with 25 on the crown, 29 on the pavilion and 8 on the girdle. The radiant cut has more weight on the pavilion due to its square shape. This increases the amount of light that enters the diamond and is refracted back to the observer.

The facets of the radiant cut extend from the center of the stone. They also have a crisscross pattern that results in fire and brilliance. The table on the radiant is large compared to other step cuts. Due to the light action and refraction, you can get away with some inclusions as they will be masked by the light action.

Due to the angle of the facets, the diamond cut results in a cracked ice appearance. This appearance sets it apart from other diamond cuts.

Also, it goes without saying that a radiant cut with 70 facets will have more fire than one with 62 facets. This is because there is more light reflection inside the stone with a higher number of facets.


While the basic shape of the princess, the cushion cut and the radiant cut is similar, one of the main ways of telling them apart is looking at the edges. Also taking a closer look will reveal that the facets are cut differently. Basically, the radiant cut is the most brilliant of the three owing to its higher number of facets.

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